Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 4 - Making Decisions -
A Commonsense Approach

This post continues with Making Decisions - A Commonsense Approach from Chapter Four.

This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

 Making Decisions - A Commonsense Approach
<snip> observe the problem as it is happening and label it: "This is a chronic problem for me."  Don't let it be automatic anymore.
<snip> Dig for the specific fears.
  • It would be awful to overlook some flaw in this car, and then buy it, only to see the flaw surface later.
  • If I wait long enough, facts will accumulate and I'll be assured of making the "right" decision.
  • I couldn't bear it if anyone saw that I made a wrong choice.
  • If I make this date, I might not feel like going when the time comes, and then I'll regret the decision.  And good people don't cancel or change their minds, so once I make the date, I'm really trapped.
  • Once I make this purchase, I'm stuck with it forever.
  • My life would be ruined if I got engaged - or worse, married! and later had some regrets.
  • It would be terrible to have committed myself to an appointment if something preferable came along later for the same time.
  • I can't take a stand because I'm not sure I'll feel the same way later, and changing my mind would make me look like a fool.

Once you've uncovered the particular thoughts that plague you, think about them one by one.  For the most part, they are either inaccurate statements, exaggerations, or arbitrary assumptions badly in need of revision.  And they are damaging you terribly.  You may have hosted such beliefs for a long time, but that doesn't make them true, and you need not hold onto them.  <snip>

How true is it, for instance, that you're stuck with that shirt or even that car "forever"?  And even if you did have to keep it for a while, would that necessarily be "awful"?  Chances are, the only thing that makes it awful, rather than inconvenient or uncomfortable, is your labeling it as such and then stubbornly dwelling on that idea.

<snip> it's crucial to your happiness that you learn to distinguish between temporary discomfort and something intolerable.  So take the time to think about it now and every time this opportunity arises.  Don't let old, untested, irrational thinking habits continue to dictate what you are going to feel.  Think as a person who truly wants to be happier, someone who will do everything possible to make his or her life better.

IMO, two things here can't be repeated enough: 

1)  Don't let it be automatic.  Become aware of your knee-jerk responses, take a step back, and ask yourself, is this really what I want to do?  Pro-active, rather than re-active.  Which is good advice whether somebody is OCPD or not.  It's all about becoming mindful.  We may not be able to choose how we feel, but we can choose how we behave.

2) it's crucial to your happiness that you learn to distinguish between temporary discomfort and something intolerable.

We know, with our reasonable, logical brains, that it's not "intolerable" if a child - or an adult - spills a glass of milk.  Or forgets all nine billion steps of the Sacred Shower Protocol, or even if we make a mistake at work and our boss sees it.  Mistakes are part of belonging to the human race.

What is intolerable - and this is why I had to leave my ex - is living with someone who rides us like the Lone Ranger rode Silver, seeking to make sure we don't spill milk or omit a step of the Shower Protocol or make a mistake - any mistake.  Ever.

Can you learn to observe your problems, instead of just reacting?
How about being able to "be" with a little discomfort?